Over 540 sailors, from 50 nations, will be competing in Miami, USA, for the second of four regattas in Sailing’s 2018 World Cup Series.
From 21-28 January, some of the best sailors, including Olympic medallists and World Champions, will be competing across all ten Olympic events in Miami, giving their best to ensure a solid start to the year.
The first opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is at Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 this August. World Cup Series rounds in Miami, USA and Hyères, France as well as the final in Marseille, France, at the Paris 2024 Olympic venue, will give a clear indication on who will be gunning for gold at the World Championships and in line to qualify their country for the Tokyo 2020.
Some of the stars sailing in Miami include the Australian Laser Men’s sailor, Tom Burton, who won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and the legendary Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) who clinched an emotional Nacra 17 gold medal in Rio.
British 49er sailors, Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell competed in the first event of the 2018 World Cup Series, in Gamagori, Japan last October and managed to add World Cup gold to their 2017 49er World Championship title.
2018 World Cup Series Miami will see the return of 49erFX sailors, Ragna Agerup and Maia Agerup (NOR), who had a successful 2017 winning silver at the 2017 World Cup Series in Miami and gold at the 49erFX Junior World Championship in Kingston, Canada.
Kate Macgregor and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) just missed out on a podium position at the 2017 World Cup Series Final in Santander, Spain. The 49erFX sailors are motivated to make the podium this time.
The Men’s RS:X fleet will see a renewal of rivalries. The Rio 2016 gold medallist, Dorian Van Rysselberghe (NED) and Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Pierre Le Co (FRA), fought closely at Rio 2016 and will both be fighting for Miami honours.
Hei Man H V Chan, from Hong Kong, won gold in the first round of World Cup Series in Japan and at the 2017 RS:X Asian Championships in Taiwan. After an impressive haul of honours in 2017, the 27-year-old will be hoping to get her 2018 off to a blistering start in the Women’s RS:X. She will also be joined by Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Stefania Elfutina (RUS).
The 2017 470 World Champions, Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Irmina Mrózek Gliszczynska, who also won at the first round of the World Cup Series, will be attending and looking to continue their winning streak in Miami. Close rivals, Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR), will also be competing. Mills, a Rio gold medallist with Saskia Clark, teamed up with McIntyre for the 2017 Series Final in Santander where they won gold. They’ll be battling for top spot once again.
Rio 2016 Men’s 470 bronze medallists, Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) will be attending Miami this year. They will be aiming to better they bronze medal winning performance from 2017.
The Laser fleet will be highly competitive as all three Gamagori podium sailors will be battling it out. Bronze Rio 2016 champion, Sam Meech (NZL), won gold in the first round of the World Cup Series.
The current ranked number one sailor, Pavlos Kontides (CYP), who recently won Cyprus’ Athlete of the Year for the fifth time, scored silver in Gamagori and was crowned champion of the 2017 Laser World Championship, in Split, Croatia.
Australian Laser sailor, Tom Burton, claimed bronze in Gamagori and fought hard with Kontides at the Laser Standard Men’s Worlds. Burton managed to get silver. The competition is expected to be close once again.
Laser Radial sailors, Emma Plasschaert (BEL) and Josefin Olsson (SWE), who came second and third in Gamagori will be racing in Miami.
Plasschaert didn’t make the podium at the 2017 Santander World Cup Series Final but she has shown significant progress and is certainly a contender to watch out for.
Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) won a landslide Miami gold in 2017 and she’s quite familiar with the playing field giving her an advantage this year. Karachaliou currently holds third place in the world rankings.
Giles Scott (GBR) makes his World Cup series return in Miami following his gold medal exploits at Rio 2016. Scott was part of Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team in Bermuda but is back on the Olympic trail targeting Tokyo 2020.
During Scott’s absence, Ben Cornish has taken a lead role in the British Finn team with a number of medal winning performances and will be in the medal hunt in Miami.
Max Salminen (SWE) will also be a major contender. The Swede gained gold in the 2017 Finn Gold Cup in Balatonföldvár, Hungary, and in the 2017 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía, in Spain.
Racing at the 2018 World Cup Series Miami will commence on Tuesday 23 January at 11:00 local time.
By Aadil Seedat – World Sailing